Tips from a Budget Advisor and City Year Alumni
City Year Philadelphia alum Anthony Copeman, a certified financial educator who focuses on helping millennials manage their financial health, grew up in a household that valued the importance of financial literacy. At a young age, his grandmother opened a savings account for him, teaching him how to make deposits and withdrawals, balance a checkbook and interact with a bank teller. By the time Anthony was in high school, he even joined an investment club and opened up a brokerage account.
So it’s no surprise that when he enrolled as a freshman at Temple University, he decided to major in accounting. While at Temple, Anthony also became involved in the campus’ main service organization, Having Ambition N Devotion to Service (H.A.N.D.S.) and that was when he first learned about City Year.
“The red jackets were the first thing that caught my attention,” Anthony says. “But when I heard about the mission of City Year and how AmeriCorps members were having fun while doing good in the community, I was sold.”
During his service with City Year Philadelphia at Grover Washington Middle School, Anthony learned a lot about what it meant to live on a budget, putting his financial planning skills to work.
“As an AmeriCorps member, I was making a little over $800 a month,” he recalls. “It was, to say the least, an extremely humbling experience—but I knew that if I could manage living on this amount of money, I could manage any budget. I saw it as a challenge.”
Read how City Year is helping new AmeriCorps members cover the expense of moving to a new city for service with our Universal Relocation Benefit.
Fast forward a few years and Anthony is now a full-time personal finance educator. Informed by his passion for financial literacy and his own personal experiences living on a tight budget, he founded a digital platform, Financial Lituation, that provides financial advice for a fee. His goal is to help shift Millennial and Gen Z mindsets around financial planning and their relationship with money.
Here are Anthony’s top three tips for managing your money through a year of service.
Keep Your Expenses Low
This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s important! Luckily, there are many things simple things you can do to keep your costs low.
If possible, stay on your parents’ health insurance and cell phone plans. And though eating out is always fun, it can be a real drain on your wallet. Instead, buy groceries with your roommates or apply for SNAP benefits (a true life and money saver for many AmeriCorps members). Finally, attend free or low-cost events in your city—game nights, potlucks and discount days at the movies are always great options.
Read more about how to live on a City Year stipend.
Contribute Toward Your Financial Freedom
Though you and your fellow AmeriCorps members will be making the same modest stipend, everyone’s financial situation will still vary. With that being said, I’d still recommend that everyone try to save as much as possible each paycheck. Open up a high yield, online-only savings account and try to put away at least $25 a paycheck. By the end of service, you’ll have saved at least a few hundred dollars.
Financially Consider Your LACY Plans
It's hard to think about this now, but Life After City Year (LACY) can be expensive! It’s likely that you’ll need money for things like relocation or to hold you over until your next job. Learning financial literacy skills often means setting both short and long term financial goals. So, the money you save during these 10 months can help make your post-service transition a little easier!
These are just a few tips to get you started during your service as City Year AmeriCorps members but the journey to financial freedom is much longer. For more tips on how to manage your money through service and beyond, check out “$hares, “Anthony’s animated YouTube series with more even more advice for your wallet.